Thursday, May 5, 2011

Greatest Hits - The Byrds

Greatest Hits
The Byrds
Columbia  CS 9516

I bought this at Raspberry Records in Salt Lake City around 1975.  At the time I was only buying Beatles or ex-Beatles records, but I became infatuated with the Byrds after seeing a vintage clip of them on TV doing "Turn! Turn! Turn!" and when I saw this album cover I had to have it.  It was one of my favorite album covers for quite some time.  It is a premature compilation, it only covers their first four albums and it is pretty skimpy too with only 11 tracks clocking in at a little over 30 minutes.  Gene Clark gets short shrift, as does David Crosby (not that I'm complaining) and Bob Dylan is over-represented with 4 cuts, one of which wasn't even a single.  The liner notes by Dave Swaney are quite good for their time although somehow he finds a way to mention band publicist Derek Taylor while ignoring Gene Clark and Chris Hillman.  Most casual fans would probably prefer a more comprehensive overview of the band, but for folk-rock fans, this sums up that period of the Byrds' career pretty nicely.  As befits a greatest hits package, there is not a bad song on here and until I bought the first four albums, I played it a lot.  I rarely play it at all anymore, but it certainly had a big influence on me, I owe a lot of my interest in folk-rock to this record.  My favorite cut is "Eight Miles High", its blend of folk-rock and psychedelia is irresistible to me.  My other favorites are "Mr. Tambourine Man," "So You Want to Be A Rock 'n' Roll Star" and "I'll Feel A Whole Lot Better" which I find endlessly listenable.  At the time I didn't like "5D" at all, I've come to like it somewhat but I'm sure the only reason it is on here is because it has a McGuinn copyright.  I think this album would have been more valuable if it included some non-album cuts like "She Don't Care About Time" (a better song than most of the ones on this record in my opinion), "Lady Friend" or the original version of "Why".  Basically if you are a Byrds fan, you own the first four albums, all of which are essential, so you don't need this record.  Recommended for folk-rock dilettantes.           

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